My guess is most of you know about this at this point, but Tomica dropped one of the bombshells of the year this week:
If you haven’t heard, Takara Tomy announced that the Tomica line will extend to Ferrari models. And to start the La Ferrari will debut in the basic range, and a stunning Testarossa will hit Tomica Premium. And to top it all off, a Ferrari Auto Service set will be released as well.
Needless to say, it’s a big deal.
But it brings up a major question. What is going on with the Ferrari license?
Ferrari keeps its diecast license exclusive, meaning one company will hold the license to produce miniature replicas. That was Mattel for years, until they lost it to the May Cheong Group out of China, who produces Maisto and bburago. Maisto and bburago made a acquisition of the license a big deal of course, announcing several lines in several scales, mainly under the bburago brand. They made a big push, but then….nothing.
Obviously it wasn’t nothing from their perspective, but for many collectors around the world, Ferrari diecast vanished. Many collectors in the US and elsewhere, used to Hot Wheels’ approach to Ferrari, were less than impressed with the Maisto/bburago approach, with most small scales looking VERY toy-like, especially with the cheap-looking wheels being used. I was impressed with the 1/18 scale efforts, but was quite a bit underwhelmed with the small scale products.
But no matter how the models looked, it didn’t matter because these models barely made a peep in many markets. Here in the US, I remember seeing some at Toys R Us, and some at Dollar General. That is it. And they didn’t move anyway. In the US, Ferrari went from a MASSIVE component of the Hot Wheels global branding to a pegwarmer in a discount store. That isn’t a good thing.
Of course, the US is only one market, and in many other markets maybe the bburago/Maisto Ferraris did well, especially in the larger scales, which are more popular overseas. Still, Ferrari could not have been happy with what was essentially a vanishing in many important markets. And, for what its worth, I miss the shit out of finding cool Ferrari replicas. And I know I am not alone.
So this development from Tomica is significant. How significant I have no idea. It is a curious time to see these models announced. May Cheong’s exclusive license with Ferrari started in January of 2015. Maybe the initial exclusivity contract was for 3 years, plus a 90 day clause. That would time out to right about now.
Then of course, on the new website that Tomica has dedicated to Ferrari, this is at the bottom:
M.C.G is still there. So maybe the exclusive rights are gone. I can’t see anything else about it anywhere, so obviously time will tell.
My guess is the first question from most of you is whether or not we will see Hot Wheels Ferraris again. I haven’t heard anything, and at this point I really doubt it. Whatever agreement was made between the May Cheong Group and Takara Tomy, my guess is it is only between them. Maybe Ferrari demanded better worldwide presence, and asked M.C.G. to bring in a partner, or maybe this is a special one-off. If I had to guess, it’s the former.
Which leads to what might be the million dollar question for us 1/64 nerds: Could we actually see a Tomica Limited Vintage Ferrari someday? TLV has done some Italian cars in the past, namely Alfa Romeo and Fiat. Do I dare dream of a TLV 250 GTO? Or a TLV-N 308? That is a very dangerous path, so I will hold off for now. But wow.
In the meantime, Jeff Koch is taking pre-orders for the basic models and playset on his IG account, and I am sure Japan Booster will have the Premium models and more available as well.
Welcome back Ferrari.